Jake Lynn
Environics Communications

The Optical Society Launches Optica, New Open-Access Journal for Highest-Impact Research in the Science of Light

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Alex Gaeta, editor-in-chief of The Optical Society's (OSA) new open-access journal Optica, discusses the publication’s focus on the rapid dissemination of high-impact results in all areas of optics and photonics.

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First issue cover of The Optical Society’s new open-access journal Optica.  The image shows optical microresonators on a silicon wafer.  Devices similar to these were used to make the microcomb optical clock described in paper: “A microresonator frequency comb optical clock,” Optica 1, 10-14 (2014). Credit: Kerry Vahala, Caltech.

See caption belowThin-disk ytterbium-doped YAG regenerative amplifier pumped by continuous-wave laser diodes. From paper: Third-generation femtosecond technology,” Optica 1, 45-64 (2014). Credit: Hannieh Fattahi, Max-Planck Institut für Quantenoptik.

See caption belowArtist's conception of a surface diffraction measurement using high harmonic illumination in the extreme ultraviolet region of the spectrum. From paper: Tabletop nanometer extreme ultraviolet imaging in an extended reflection mode using coherent Fresnel ptychography,” Optica 1, 39-44 (2014). Credit: Matthew Seaberg, JILA/Univ. of Colorado at Boulder.
WASHINGTON, July 22, 2014—The Optical Society (OSA) today published the first issue of Optica, its new open-access, online-only journal dedicated to rapidly disseminating the highest-impact peer-reviewed research across the entire spectrum of optics and photonics.   It will join a portfolio of publications published by OSA, whose scientific journals receive the most citations (41 percent) and publish the most articles in the field of optics and photonics (37 percent) (2012 Journal Citation Reports® [Thomson Reuters, 2013]).
Optica provides an international and publicly available forum for scientists in optics and photonics to showcase their most relevant and influential research,” said Optica’s Editor-in-Chief Alex Gaeta of Cornell University. “Since Optica is published by OSA, editorial decisions are made by experts in the field who are OSA members, authors and reviewers. This ensures the integrity of the high-quality research that appears in the journal.”
Optica’s premiere issue covers topics such as remote sensing, high-speed data transmission, nanoscale imaging and precision time measurement  and is headlined by an article from Stanford University about the development of high-efficiency, long-lasting solar cells that cool themselves by shepherding away unwanted thermal radiation with a specially patterned layer of silica glass.  Other articles in the inaugural issue include:
Doppler ‘Spin,’ Rather than Shift, Observed in White Light: The Doppler effect, the lengthening and shortening of the wavelength of light depending on whether an object is moving toward or away from an observer, is an essential tool in astrophysics and many other fields of science.  By applying a back-scattered light source, scientists from the University of Glasgow have—for the first time—observed white light with a different kind of Doppler shift, one that arises from the rotation of an object rather than its motion toward or away from an observer.
M. P. J. Lavery, S. M. Barnett, F. C. Speirits, M. J. Padgett, “Observation of the rotational Doppler shift of a white-light, orbital-angular-momentum-carrying beam back-scattered from a rotating body,” Optica 1, 1-4 (2014)
Using Laser Pulses to Fashion Waveguides Out of Thin Air: Researchers from the University of Maryland have demonstrated that remote sensing techniques can be enhanced by harnessing the atmosphere to form "air waveguides,” which can dramatically increase both the amount of signal received and improve the signal-to-noise ratio. The technique involves using a laser to generate an array of femtosecond filaments that create an optical waveguide, which acts as an efficient standoff lens.
E. W. Rosenthal, N. Jhajj, J. K. Wahlstrand, H. M. Milchberg, “Collection of remote optical signals by air waveguides,” Optica 1, 5-9 (2014)
Precision Time Measurement on a Chip: In work featured on the cover of Optica, scientists from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology and the California Institute of Technology have demonstrated, for the first time, an optical clock coupled with a silicon chip device known as a microresonator.  The device is based on an “optical comb,” which precisely measures very high frequencies of light.

S. B. Papp, K. Beha, P. Del’Haye, F. Quinlan, H. Lee, K. J. Vahala, S. A. Diddams, “A microresonator frequency comb optical clock,” Optica 1, 10-14 (2014)

New Nyquist Laser Promises Ultrahigh-speed Data Transmission: Researchers from Japan’s Tohoku University describe a new laser based on so-called Nyquist pulses, which produce a very particular waveform that can simultaneously achieve high data rate and spectral efficiency. A Nyquist laser may be an attractive light source for ultrahigh-speed transmission and may achieve a single-channel bit rate beyond the one terabit per second level.

M. Nakazawa, M. Yoshida, T. Hirooka, “The Nyquist laser,” Optica 1, 15-22 (2014)
Tinkering with Time Aids Data Compression and Transfer:  Researchers from The University of California, Los Angeles propose a novel approach to easing bottlenecks in the flow of information: a data compression technique known as time bandwidth engineering. Based on new mathematical tools that characterize an optical signal’s duration and bandwidth, time bandwidth engineering offers tantalizing avenues of research that could improve the way data is captured, compressed, and transferred.

B. Jalali, J. Chan, M. H. Asghari, “Time bandwidth engineering,” Optica 1, 23-31 (2014)

Tabletop UV Microscope Reveals More Features at the Nanoscale: Optical scientists from the University of Colorado at Boulder report the development of a new class of microscopes based on reconstructing images of nanoscale objects by observing diffraction patterns created in extreme ultraviolet light. This tabletop-size technology is capable of imaging extended nanoscale features from virtually any angle, in a non-contact, non-destructive manner.  

M. D. Seaberg, B. Zhang, D. F. Gardner, E. R. Shanblatt, M. M. Murnane, H. C. Kapteyn, D. E. Adams, “Tabletop nanometer extreme ultraviolet imaging in an extended reflection mode using coherent Fresnel ptychography,” Optica 1, 39-44 (2014)
Femtosecond Technology: Past, Present and Future: Femtosecond technology—light pulses one millionth of a nanosecond in duration—was pioneered nearly four decades ago and has seen steady technology improvements. Now the third generation of femtosecond technology is emerging and promises femtosecond light that is tunable over several octaves of wavelengths, among other currently unattainable features. An international team of 26 scientists and engineers from six countries review the current concepts, technology and proof-of-principle experiments in the field of femtosecond optics, including a conceptual design study of a prototypical tunable and wideband source for pushing the boundaries of femto- and attosecond science.

H. Fattahi, H. G. Barros, M. Gorjan, et al, “Third-generation femtosecond technology,” Optica 1, 45-63 (2014)
A video introduction from Gaeta and all the open-access articles from the first issue of Optica are available online.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Images are available to members of the media upon request. Contact Jake Lynn at

About Optica
Optica is an open-access, online-only journal dedicated to the rapid dissemination of high-impact peer-reviewed research across the entire spectrum of optics and photonics. Published monthly by The Optical Society (OSA), Optica provides a forum for pioneering research to be swiftly accessed by the international community, whether that research is theoretical or experimental, fundamental or applied. Optica maintains a distinguished editorial board of more than 20 associate editors from around the world and is overseen by Editor-in-Chief Alex Gaeta of Cornell University.   For more information, visit
About The Optical Society
Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional society for scientists, engineers, students and business leaders who fuel discoveries, shape real-world applications and accelerate achievements in the science of light.  Through world-renowned publications, meetings and membership programs, OSA provides quality research, inspired interactions and dedicated resources for its extensive global network of professionals in optics and photonics.  For more information, visit